Sciatica is a set of symptoms that occur when the sciatic nerve is compressed, pinched, or irritated in some way. The sciatic nerve is the widest and longest nerve in the human body. It runs from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks, and down each leg, ending just below the knee.
Approximately 40% of people in the U.S. are likely to experience sciatica at some point during their lifetime. Age, height, and weight are all risk factors. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc. The main symptom is typically a sharp, shooting pain anywhere along the sciatic nerve. Other symptoms include muscle weakness, numbness, and a tingling sensation in the feet and toes. Sciatica typically only affects one side of the body, but it is possible for it to occur on both sides.
Sciatica typically improves after 4-8 weeks, depending on the severity of the symptoms. In more severe cases, symptoms may persist for as long as 1-2 years. Among treatment options for it, acupuncture has been proven to be very effective and without the side effects of prescription pain medications or surgery. By stimulating the acupuncture points, muscles become relaxed, the nervous system is regulated, blood circulation is improved, and neurotransmitters are released to alleviate pain.